Story at a glance
- Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) ordered masks to be worn in public when social distancing isn’t possible.
- The order goes into effect Saturday.
- Vermont’s seven-day average test positivity this week was the lowest in the U.S.
Vermont will distribute more than 200,000 free cloth masks to residents to help stop the spread of the coronavirus as the state’s new mask mandate is set to take effect on Saturday.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) said on Friday the Vermont National Guard and Vermont Emergency Management will begin distributing the free masks to towns and community partners.
Reminder: Tomorrow, in order to help protect the gains we've made in our fight against COVID-19, Vermont's statewide mask mandate goes into effect. To help, @vemvt and @VTNationalGuard will begin distributing over 200,000 free masks to towns and community partners. #MasksOnVT pic.twitter.com/ZYtAhb1WuA— Governor Phil Scott (@GovPhilScott) July 31, 2020
Vermont Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said the masks will cover a third of the state’s population. Residents can get the masks at several locations throughout the state.
The state has experienced low rates of infection as several Southern and Western states have recently seen dramatic surges in outbreaks. The seven-day average test positivity this week was the lowest in the U.S.
Scott last week issued a statewide mandate that requires everyone over the age of 2, with some exceptions, to wear face coverings in public areas where physical distancing is not possible. While the state has done relatively well in keeping a surge of coronavirus at bay, Scott issued the mask order out of abundance of caution.
“Based on national and regional data on how the virus is spreading - and rather than waiting like other states have - I feel we need to act now to protect our gains, which have allowed us to reopen much of our economy,” Scott said last week when announcing the order.
Vermont has confirmed 1,414 coronavirus cases with 57 deaths.
More than 30 states in the U.S. have now issued some form of a mask requirement as the coronavirus continues to tear through the nation.